Think of how you make your way through your day.
There is probably a (maybe unspoken) question or comment hovering always in the back of your mind.
In your daily life, which of these thoughts might be stuck in your thinking:
I don’t have enough_______________
I can’t be happy / successful until I get _______________
People will hurt me unless __________
I can’t let something good happen because _____________
In order to be liked, I have to ______________
The part of our minds that is thinking these thoughts is our “lizard brain,” what scientists call the reptilian brain. This part of our human brain evolved first, and its job is to continually test the environment for danger, food and love (well, sex, anyway), kind of like the snake’s tongue, always flicking in and out, gathering information, testing testing testing. If the lizard brain gets alarmed (and it is very easily triggered) it takes us instantly into one of three fear responses: fight, flight, or freeze.
I think we are all born with a tendency toward one or more of the “lack or attack” thoughts that I listed above. They become the story we tell ourselves all day, and all night in our dreams, about who we are and what is (not) possible for us. Lack or attack thoughts become our “shadow.” They limit our actions. They limit our successes. They may be trying to keep us safe, but they cage us.
We seem to have two strategies for our favorite lack or attack stories. We use them as instruments of self torture, or we nurture and tend to them in a weirdly loving way.
Sometimes these stories represent all the things we are critical of in ourselves.
We punish ourselves with them. I have worked with many people who automatically look for where they must be at fault in any given situation that didn’t seem to go right.
When we notice something we don’t like about ourselves, we may try to use healing tools like EFT to beat it up until it is dead. Of course that doesn’t work…it just makes us feel worse. And then our lizard brain kicks into gear all over again, noticing that we feel endangered and trying even harder to make us safe. The cage gets smaller.
Or, we like to hold on to the familiarity of those old stories, even though they make us feel terrible. They are sticky with the thought, “But if I change this about myself, I don’t know who I will be. I won’t know how to act! I won’t get attention.”
Martha Beck, author and life coach, calls this “story fondling.”
What an icky but apt phrase! In her book, Steering by Starlight, she tells about someone who was stuck in her story about being powerless:
Dinah wasn’t just retelling the story of her woefully ground-bound existence, she was fondling it, the way you’d pet the head of your favorite pug. The story, including the dejection it produced, was actually a kind of comfort zone for Dinah. She knew how to be poor and sad; she used her unhappiness to solicit pity from herself and others, and it generally worked to get her through life. Sadness about the past was her currency, the stuff she used to buy things. So she counted the days, months, and years of her sadness the way a miser counts money. This left her so attached to sadness that no happy version of her life, no joyful here and now, could even come up on her radar screen.
I have met many people like this. We will have a wonderful tapping session, and they will go away feeling so much better. And then in the next session they are back with another version of the same old story. The same thing happens over and over. They are addicted to their story.
I like to use EFT to help us to Re-Imagine our old stories so that our Truth story, the real truth about our goodness, can shine through. I frame nearly every tapping session I do this way.
Often I will ask someone to write out their old story. This is very easy to do, especially for people who have had a lot of experience with seeing medical people, healers, or alternative practitioners. They not only have gotten a lot of practice telling their life story to themselves, everyone they have gone to for help has asked for their story too. I invite them to follow up the old story by writing their Truth story.
Both stories are there in us and are equally “true”—the story we tell just depends on which facts we choose to assemble and link together in a narrative with meaning.
Here is an example. These are the paragraphs that Don wrote in response to my request:
THE OLD STORY
The old story goes something like this:
I find it very difficult to change. When I do change, or am looking at changing, it’s always with a great deal of anguish and second-guessing, going over and over in my mind what the outcomes will be—they are mostly negative (as I see them).
I view life from the perspective of the glass being half full and if something negative hasn’t happened, just wait, it will!
I strongly feel that I have a commitment phobia (really an addiction) in regard to relationships. I feel I also have a great deal of suppressed anger and when I get upset, rather than getting it out in constructive ways, I stuff it (I should not be angry, is a belief I have). I experience full body spasms which are centered in my abdominal area and could very well be the bottled up anger and rage. I seem to be able to only feel the dense, heavy, negative emotions and very little of joy, love, and happiness.
Change is to be looked at as something undesirable, for the most part, because I never know what is going to happen, so it’s better to stay, most of the time, in my usual rut, even if it is quite uncomfortable. If I changed, things could get even worse, so I only change when it is absolutely necessary–and even then fight it all the way! While many people can seem to change with ease, change is very difficult, and in many cases impossible, for me.
THE NEW STORY
The new story goes something like this:
I have changed quite often and took many risks in my life. I’ve lived in many houses and apartments; owned many different cars; held many different jobs; went on trips to Europe, North Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Canada, as well as traveled to many different parts of the USA.
I have changed my religious views and personal philosophy, leaving Catholicism behind in college (after beginning to question it in high school), later adopting Buddhism, and still later feeling more comfortable with a “spiritual” approach to life rather than being plugged into a formal religious structure. I have studied Zen Buddhism and Taoism; practiced and studied various meditation techniques, Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Aikido, and Kendo, learning something from each of them (I’ve studied with Shamans in Peru and from Russia; studied with Taoist and Tai Chi teachers in China and Taiwan; studied Kendo in Japan).
I taught myself to fly fish and enjoyed many a day on beautiful rural trout streams. I went to massage school, after retiring from working 35 years in the employee benefit field, and began to develop a small massage and energetic healing practice. I sold my home several years ago and moved to another state after I met my love on a trip to China, and I overcame a severe allergy to cats in order to be with her (she has four cats). I also now have two cats! I received an MBA in my late 40’s, going to school over a 3-year period to obtain the degree.
I think I’m getting the point!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is this the same person? Yes! Notice which story makes him feel terrible, depressed, and sends him to practitioner after practitioner over the years to try to deal with the “full body spasms?” What would his life be like if he repeatedly told himself the second story?
Today I got a lovely email from a woman with whom I worked recently. Pam had received an invitation to do an EFT presentation for a Meet Up group. Her lizard brain had gone into overdrive with panic, imagining all those people staring at her with their blank faces, with their expectations.
We worked a lot with reconnecting with the lively, exuberant, curious child she had been —her Truth story—before she started falling into the cage of the old family story about what is not possible, and before all her traumatic experiences of being unseen, unheard and unacknowledged that disconnected her from her true self. “My parents thought kids were too much trouble, ‘ she had said as we tapped. “They wanted me to play like an adult—what kids normally do was not acceptable. So I had to create a public image that was not me, and I have tried to make it carry a whole life. I have always thought that *I* was unacceptable.”
Pam took one of the teleclasses I offered to introduce my new program “Re- Imagine Your Life.” After it she wrote this:
Your teleclass – intro to the new series – was really impactful for me. I thought as I was listening that you wrote all this for me (not literally – it just felt on target that way). Something that your client said (can’t recall exactly what) leaped out at me and I discovered a whole new focus for tapping on my family history. It was about owning that my feelings are mine.
No matter what my parents/teachers/friends did or didn’t do, the reactions/responses/feelings/interpretations were mine! And owning them gives ME power rather than giving my power to them. And I can retell the story differently. I am beginning to really understand how fluid our energy and our emotions really are. I had thought of these things as “What really happened” and therefore cast in stone in a way. So not true.
Letting go of one’s old “truth”, which is part of our identity up until we do let go of it, can feel rather like being without an identity until you find a new place to stand. I had a beautiful moment (moments) one day where I actually experienced myself without any of the old baggage, free of old stories—and it was not like what I expected at all. It was a peaceful place where I realized fully that “I” still existed quite apart from those old stories and that I was fully able to recognize myself without them. I was just me without the stories.
I must not have been fully ready to assimilate it though, because I went back a ways after that, so it wasn’t a complete movement into the new, but I think experiencing myself that way—having that realization—made it OK to let go and move in that direction more and more.
This is the key to success: It’s OK to let go and move in that direction more and more. The real touchstone is the “more and more” part. We can learn how to continually, gently, turn ourselves in a healing direction. This is what creates wellness.
Turning toward wellness is the joyful work that I am planning for the Re-Imagine Your Life” program, partnering with people who want to re-imagine the story of their lives.
If you would like to begin to re-imagine your life right now, do this:
• Choose the “story statement” at the top of this article that resonates most for you.
• Pick an incident in your life that is a good example of this belief.
• Write out your old story about it.
• Tap for some of the phrases and ideas in it that trigger you.
• Let your Truth story emerge and shine through the cracks!
How tapping works:
When we tap, we are uncoupling the electro-chemical flow of energy between the lizard brain and the part of the brain that elicits emotions and thoughts and makes meaning about incidents in our lives, and our memories of incidents (the hypothalamus). In other words, tapping releases us from the fight/flight/freeze response. We are free to tell the Truth!
Experiment with creative ways to rephrase or reframe the story you have been telling yourself about this incident.
Even though that happened, and that’s what always happens to me, it is just the story of my life!, I have decided to accept myself anyway.
Even though maybe I like to feel sad and resentful sometimes, I accept who I am and how I feel.
Even though that happened, and I have all those feelings about it, I choose to feel as good as I can right now.
Try some phrases and questions that gently and respectfully begin to shift your way of thinking about this incident, what it meant to you (the old story), and how your sensitive temperament responded.
Imagine that you are taking the perspective of a loving wise advisor:
Eyebrow: Is there a different way I could be thinking about this?
Side of Eye: I could let go of this resentment if I chose to.
Under Eye: Maybe I have more choices about my feelings.
Nose: I could always go back to this negative feeling later…
Chin: What if I am right to feel this way? What if I decided to feel good right now?
Collarbone: I appreciate all of my feelings and I appreciate that I care so deeply.
Under Arm: I choose to feel relieved and peaceful. We were both doing the best we could.
Head: I appreciate the relief and the joy I am tapping into.
POINT YOUR SELF IN A HEALING DIRECTION
Even though that happened, I love and accept myself anyway. I honor myself for how hard that was. I want to retell my story differently, with my Truth.
Even though I feel sad or resentful a lot, I accept who I am and how I feel. Maybe feeling hurt and resentful is a way I use to feel powerful?
Even though that happened, I choose to feel as good as I can right now, and I ask for heartful wisdom to bring healing to this. I wonder if there are better and more effective ways to know that I am enough, no matter what.
Now tap on the following phrases as you complete one more round:
I love knowing that my sadness means that I deserve better…
I choose to believe in myself and value my sensitive temperament…
I appreciate that harmony is so important to me…
It feels good to appreciate myself…
I’m grateful for this opportunity to re-think this incident…
I appreciate exactly who I am…I have a Truth Story and I want to let it shine!
I appreciate all I have learned and all that I am. I am better at change than I thought!
I am so grateful for all the goodness in my life…
I am glad to have such a finely-tuned guidance system in my feelings…
Tap some more on any aspects of the incident that still trigger you. Check in again, and notice how you feel and think about that incident now.
You will find your life story changing dramatically if you do EFT for just a few minutes on all the little incidents that come up in a day that remind you of your old story. Invite your inner Lizard to calm down. Find the Truth that is shining through you, the truth that has always been there.
Your stories that seemed to be about your burdens and flaws before will change before your eyes. As you notice how they make you feel, your stories will begin to reveal your feelings and your emotions as the gift they are—a very precise and finely tuned guidance system that lets you know right away when your story is getting off the track of your deepest Truth. You are in charge of the story you tell.
With my love, and blessings to your Truth story!
To get the recordings of the two (complimentary) introductory teleclasses, and to learn more about my new Re-Imagine Your Life Program, sign up here!